From what I've read online, when the trailer for 'Devil' premiered in cinemas it was received by jeering for one simple reason; the name 'Manoj Night Shyamalan' popping up on screen. Thanks to some less than stellar movies which included this year's atrocious 'The Last Airbender' Shyamalan has squandered what little credibility his earlier releases had earned him. 'Devil' is supposedly the first of a trilogy of films under the series knows as the 'Night Chronicles'. Shyamalan acting as producer and story writer has created a product that thankfully is nowhere near to as bad 'The Last Airbender' and I hope things only improve for him from here on.
Five people walk to into an elevator in an uptown commercial tower. On the way to their respective destinations the elevator inexplicably stops and all efforts to get it moving turn futile. The real problem however starts when random power outages begin and after each loss of electricity strange occurrences leave one of the people either dead or injured. No one is able to determine the cause and the only suspects are in the lift but all claim themselves to be innocent. As the body count rises, a detective is brought in to figure out what exactly is going on. The explanation may not be simple or natural.
I'd like to clarify right off the hook that the movie is not set in the classical 'Horror' film mold. It combines elements of a 'Whodunit' and a thriller with religious overtones keeping the supernatural elements firmly in the background. Right from the first frame the titular characters presence in the happenings on screen is never in doubt so the attempts by the script to throw you off by placing couple of red herrings and trying to provide a rational explanation cut little ice with the audience. Though it is still interesting to guess the identity of the Devil in the process and here is where the script smartly doesn't give clear background information of all the characters beyond certain clues that point the needle of suspicion towards one and then another immediately.
The claustrophobic setting of the lift could have been better utilized and the outside world kept to minimum but as the way it stands the camerawork is competent enough.
The acting by the act is uniformly good and in particular the standout is Chris Messina as the detective who might have a past that's related to this particular case.
My main grudge with the movie is the sore lack of any true-blue boo moments and in creating an atmosphere of real dread. The identity of the killer will more likely keep you glued to your seats than the horror elements.